It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Using Facebook for work without looking like I’m goofing off
I work in a large nonprofit, on a team of two that manages one program. I recently created a Facebook page and LinkedIn group for our program. Additionally, I created and curate an internal newsletter in which I summarize relevant articles and share them with staff that have opted in; to collect the articles that I include I use twitter, Facebook, and wide variety of websites (traditional news outlets, new media sites like Buzzfeed and Vox, blogs, etc.). All told, I spend at least an hour a day on social media and news sites for work.
We work in an open office plan, and I worry that people get the wrong impression when they see me with multiple tabs of twitter feeds and blog posts open when they walk by. I do not work in communications (our organization has a communications team, but individual programs manage their own social media accounts). While some of the people I work with either know or can easily understand what I’m doing, to the majority of people who come and go (and don’t necessarily know what my work encompasses), I think it just looks like I spend a lot of time screwing around.
Is there anything I could or should do about this? A sign on my cube? An email to my department? Just get over it, since my manager is on board?
I wouldn’t put a sign on your cube; it would probably look too defensive (unless you came up with funny wording, maybe). I’d mainly not worry about it, especially if you know you have a reputation for being conscientious and productive. But if it would give you peace of mind, you could say something at a department meeting if you have them (“I’m doing X, Y, and Z, which means you may see mean on social media and news sites a lot”). There are also some cultures where it wouldn’t be weird to email your department it (“Hey, I’m going to be spending a bunch of time on social media and news sites in order to do X, Y, and Z and feel weird about doing that without explaining to people why”), and other cultures where it would feel really odd to send that email — so I’d let your knowledge of your particular workplace culture be your guide there.
But mainly, I wouldn’t worry too much about it as long as your boss and people you work closely with know what’s up.
2. Employer wants to forward business calls to our personal phones whenever we’re away from our desks
Today my employer sent out an email stating that there would be call forwarding features installed at the college. Attached was a “follow-me calling form.” This was a consent form consenting to the receiving calls to our personal phone without any compensation whenever we are away from our desk.
I work in admissions at a college, so basically anyone can call call inquiring information about our school from the 800 numbers or currently enrolled students. This can cause many overage fees for me if forwarded to my phone. Can they legally tell us to do this, especially without compensation? They gave us a deadline of this Friday.
They can legally do this. If you’re in California, they’re required to pay a portion of your cell phone bill. If you’re not in California, you should just ask your employer how you should file for reimbursement for any overage charges that this new set-up incurs. In other words, assume that you’ll be reimbursed and ask them about the logistics for making that happen — because any reasonable employer will reimburse you if this incurs extra charges.
I can’t tell from the way your letter is worded if this is just when you’re away from your desk (meaning still during the workday) or if it’s outside of work hours too. If it’s outside of work hours, it’s a pretty significant change in the conditions of your employment, and I’d be asking more about that — are you expected to be available evenings and weekends now? What if you typically turn your phone off on the weekends? What exactly are they asking you to do? And of course, if you’re non-exempt, you’d need to be paid for any time spent answering those calls.
Oh, and ask if it’s optional, too. It may be.
3. Thanking my coworker for a gift card she gave me after a favor
I’ve worked in the same 80-person office for three years and know everyone really well. Our office manager recently approached me to ask for help reformatting a budgeting report she’s owned for the last four years. I ended up automating the whole process for her, which took less than two hours for me. She was super grateful and promised to get me a thank-you gift since it was outside the scope of my regular job. (I said I was happy to help and told her a gift really wasn’t necessary.)
The next week, she gave me a really sweet thank-you card and one of those pre-loaded one-time credit cards worth $50. It was very nice and I thanked her a lot and assured her again that the work was no problem. My question to you: is it appropriate to tell her how I spent the $50? I ended up buying a much-needed new bag for myself that I love and have gotten many compliments on. Would your answer be different if I had spent it on groceries and household needs?
I think it’s generally gracious to tell people if you bought yourself something specific with a monetary gift; it’s nice to hear that kind of thing, just like it’s nice to hear about how someone enjoyed the show you gave them tickets to or the foot massage you bought them or whatever. But if the gift went into your general funds, that doesn’t really apply; in that case, I’d keep the thank-you more vague.
For what it’s worth, I don’t love that a coworker basically gave you 50 bucks for work you did for her (as opposed to buying you coffee or a muffin or something else small and non-cash if she wanted to thank you with a gift). This is no criticism of you — and you likely would have made her uncomfortable if you’d turned it down — butI did want to note that in general coworkers should stay away from rewarding their colleagues with cash (unless they are your employer, in which case cash is generally the preferred gift).
4. Staffing company wants to charge the employer that wants to hire me
I got an agency job with a well-known agency. I was told it was temp to perm. After 13 weeks, the company asked for my CV and wanted to hire me as permanent. However, the agency said they won’t release me and are demanding some kind of fee. I told them that they are going to lose me my job, and their response was, “That’s ok, we will find you another one!” But I want to work for that company; it’s local and the pay will be good and I like the job.
When I confronted them about saying it was temp to perm, they told me that the person who told me that would not have said that, but she did. I always thought that after 13 weeks you were free to be employed by the company if they wanted to offer you a job, but this company wants a percentage of my wages (that the company has to pay to the agency for “finding me”).
That’s actually pretty standard when you go through a staffing agency; their contract with the employer typically requires a placement fee if they want to hire you permanently. That’s part of how staffing agencies make money, and it’s not really fair to expect them to waive their fee, since they provided a service for the company by placing you there. I totally get why you’re frustrated with it, but if you go through a staffing agency, this is part of the deal.
5. Recruiter asked if I knew anyone who was interested — in a job that I’d like
I got an interesting message from a recruiter on LinkedIn today and I was wondering if you could help me decipher it.
I got a message from a small but growing teapot company with an opening for a position with the same title as I have right now. The company is based in a city about 75 miles from where I am living right now and a city I hope to relocate to as my partner lives there. The email briefly introduced the position and then asked if I know anyone I could refer.
I am considering putting my name forward as a candidate. I’m confused, however, because the message asked if I knew anyone I could refer. Every other recruiter who’s contacted me on LinkedIn has directly said “we would like to talk to you about the position.” I have most of the skills they are looking for but have practiced those skills in a different software program (think Microsoft Word vs. Google Docs). Are they coyly asking me if I’m interested without directly trying to poach me or are they really looking to see if I know anybody (but they’re not interested in me specifically)? It seems like a simple request… but is it?
It’s actually not an uncommon way to word this kind of message — both because they genuinely want to know if you know of anyone who might be good for the position and because they figure that you’ll speak up if that person is you. I’ve also used that wording before myself when I’m specifically hoping the person will say “I’m interested!” but where I don’t want to seem like I’m attempting to poach them for political reasons (e.g., if I have a relationship with their current employer and don’t want to cause tension there by directly going after one of their employees).